Conor McGregor may make millions for every fight, but the average UFC fighter doesn’t. When it comes to pay, UFC fighters have a different experience than other athletes. Here’s a breakdown of the ways a UFC fighter gets money in the bank.
UFC fighters’ base pay
Every fighter has a base salary they receive for making weight and fighting. As the MMA Guru explains, the base amount depends on several factors. Each UFC fighter is considered an independent contractor and they’re free to negotiate with the UFC on the base pay. Usually, the more popular the fighter, the higher it is.
For example, Nate Diaz got a $20,000 base salary in his fight against Michael Johnson. However, after Diaz choked out McGregor and became a superstar, he renegotiated his salary. In his last fight, he got $250,000 to show up and fight Anthony Pettis.
Base pay also includes a win bonus, which usually only applies to fighters who don’t have a high base pay. For example, in the Johnson fight, Diaz had a $20,000 win bonus, so his actual base salary was $40,000. In the Pettis fight though, Diaz didn’t have a win bonus in his contract, so he just got $250,000 for fighting.
Sponsorships and endorsements
In 2015, the UFC signed an exclusive sponsorship deal with Reebok. This made Reebok the exclusive sponsor for UFC fighters during fight night. Fight night is the most lucrative time for sponsors since that’s when everyone’s watching. As a result, many UFC fighters have no sponsors other than Reebok.
To make up for that, Reebok pays the UFC, which in turn pays each fighter an amount based on how many fights they’ve had in the UFC. This Reebok sponsorship pay is minuscule, and it can range from $3,500 per fight to $40,000, according to the MMA Guru.
Endorsements are lucrative for UFC fighters but they’re mostly reserved for the most popular fighters. And of course, the more popular the fighter, the more endorsement money they’ll make. Because of this, though, it’s impossible to know what the average endorsement deal pays.
UFC bonuses, fines, and PPV points
Not to be confused with win bonuses, performance bonuses are awarded after a fight card ends. Usually, there’s one “fight of the night” bonus and two “performance of the night” bonuses per event. Four people get awarded a bonus, and each one pays $50,000. Sometimes, one person will get two bonuses and receive an extra $100,000.
Then there are backroom bonuses, which is money the UFC pays the fighters behind closed doors. Because of this, it’s unknown what that number looks like. Fines are technically another way to make money in the UFC. If your opponent misses weight, then they’ll be fined a portion of their salary. This fine will usually go to the other fighter.
Finally, pay-per-view, or PPV points, are another way a UFC fighter can make millions. Like endorsement deals, very few people will get PPV points. When a fighter gets PPV points, it just means a small percentage of the money that audiences pay for a PPV will go to the fighter. PPV points are usually reserved for champions and popular fighters.
How Conor McGregor gets paid
When he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov, McGregor had a base salary of $3,000,000 as well as $40,000 from the Reebok sponsorship. His PPV points, however, allowed him to make almost $50,000,000 from the fight.
In terms of endorsements, the MMA Guru estimates that McGregor gets about $25,000,000 a year from his deals. However, he and other well-paid fighters like Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt are the exception. Most UFC fighters will not make millions per year.